Whatever Happened To Smells

02/14/2014 — 8 Comments

imagesWhen I was a young man I could smell things because they had odors to them. On a rainy day one could smell wet wool. When you walked by a tavern you would smell whiskey and tobacco. The gasoline, in those days, had a wonderful scent to it. If someone was cooking you could smell it from a block away. If someone took their shoes off there might be an unpleasant smell.

Not all of these smells were pleasant but they were part of life and I miss them. We have deodorized life. Each of us has an oder and that oder has become something that is considered bad. My grandmother had a scent all her own and I miss it. My father worked in a factory and he smelled like a factory when he came home. I miss that scent.

If someone was from a particular culture their home had a scent to it and I miss walking into, as example, walking into an Italian home and smelling garlic. I enjoyed the smell of tobacco until “The nice people” put chemicals into them and made them smell horrible.

I miss smells!

8 responses to Whatever Happened To Smells

  1. You miss smells? What, nobody farts in L.A. anymore? They did when I was there. But don’t worry, I’m not going to go off on my favorite topic here – farts, the granddaddy of all odors – although I can talk about odors for hours as my sincere belief, not trying to be funny, is that there is no such thing as a bad smell. It’s a relative thing. A foul smelling fart is rebuked as an odor because there are other more pleasing ones to be had. But if those pleasing odors were to disappear, some of the fouler odors would move up the smell chain and become less revolting. Being able to smell means you’re alive. Maybe you were more alive when you were younger.

    My place smells like garlic. I use it a lot. My grandparents home always smelled like garlic, and I loved it.

    Now, once again not tying to be funny – I am dead serious when I say it: even the wafting smell of a dead animal off in the woods can be appealing in an odd way. Tell me your nose doesn’t twitch with some degree of excitement even as you yell, “Whoa, holy God, what in the hell is THAT?”, for everyone or even just yourself to hear.

    That odor is repugnant only because we have a variety of odors to choose from. But if it were the only odor we had, or one of the very few, and all of them were bad by today’s standards, some of them would move up the smell chain and become good smells – because odors and how we react to them is a relative thing. I could talk about odor all day. I’m a nose guy. I love smells, even the bad ones. But don’t get me wrong, I don’t seek the bad ones out, I just take them for what they are, even at times reveling in their disgusting quality. Every smell that comes down the pike is, or should be, a pleasant reminder that you are still alive.

    TJ

  2. Kip, I don’t want to swamp your site, but we are on my favorite topic here – the topic of odors – and restraining myself is not easy. I will try. This is a short one.

    Twice in my teens I went to Jamaica to visit my aunt who had married a Jamaican artist she met in New York. She was an artist too. I went a few times to Kingston and rode the bus. Everyone was dressed lightly, some in sleeveless tee shirts. This was in the days when buses still had windows that could be opened. No air conditioning either. Good, I don’t care for it.

    The prevailing odor on that bus was human sweat. It was fantastic. It was not the foul odor sweat that has dried and turned bad. I’m not saying I’d have loved to go up to each person on the bus and smell each individual arm pit – but the overall smell was very pleasant and very human in a good way. Maybe air conditioning has some influence on odors – not only directly but maybe by drying out our noses and perhaps over time destroying our sense of smell. The odor of human sweat on that bus is in my brain to this day and it is a pleasant one. There was nothing remotely filthy about it. I try not to miss many things, don’t want to live in the past – but I really did like the open windows on buses and elsewhere that is so lacking in today’s world. Ok, I’m out of here. Thanks.

    TJ

  3. my favorite smell that no longer exists -a big pile of burning leaves. not only the smell, but also the crackling of the fire. A one-of-a-kind. experience. I hate government who banned such a wonderful pleasure.

    • I can talk about smells all day, Al. I’m from PA but lived from age 21 to 44 in L.A., then went back to PA for 2 years, then moved to NC and have been here since ’93. I smell burning leaves in the fall all the time around here. Maybe I didn’t smell them this year and just took it for granted. I didn’t know there was a law against it. It must be a state law, right? Whatever, who needs the law anyway? A true nose man like me will root out the smell no matter what. Foul stench of pleasant odor – doesn’t matter – they all have their own individual appeal. There may be some foul smells you don’t want around, but if enough enough good smells disappear, in desperation your nose would seek out the foul ones and make do with those, because, as I have long contended, there is no such thing as a bad smell.

      TJ

  4. Hey Kip,

     

    I was born and spent 45 years in your home town of Rockford and smells I miss are the ink smell from the stack of Rockford Morning Star newspapers that I delivered each morning, The smell that would escape from a freshly opened vinyl record album (toxic I'm sure), or the smell of freshly minted comic books that I fanatically collected as a kid both purchased from the Nihan & Martin Pharmacy which had it's own unique smells. The mimeograph handouts (with their distinctive purple ink) all my grade school teachers handed out (toxic I'm sure). Lastly the smell from bending over the open freezer/coolers in grocery stores and smelling the sub-zero air (we had no air-conditioning when I was a kid), It gave a psychological relief from a hot summer day. It seems weird looking back on it.

     

    Cheers

    Rich

  5. Hey Kip,

    I was born and spent 45 years in your home town of Rockford and smells I miss are the ink smell from the stack of Rockford Morning Star newspapers that I delivered each morning, The smell that would escape from a freshly opened vinyl record album (toxic I’m sure), or the smell of freshly minted comic books that I fanatically collected as a kid both purchased from the Nihan & Martin Pharmacy which had it’s own unique smells. The mimeograph handouts (with their distinctive purple ink) all my grade school teachers handed out (toxic I’m sure). Lastly the smell from bending over the open freezer/coolers in grocery stores and smelling the sub-zero air (we had no air-conditioning when I was a kid), It gave a psychological relief from a hot summer day. It seems weird looking back on it.

    Cheers
    Rich

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